Several large natural gas interstate pipeline projects have come online in recent years to support the shifting geography of domestic natural gas production. The Marcellus and Utica shale plays in the Northeast, where production has grown and resources are abundant, are major drivers for pipeline development. In 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificated 17.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of new natural gas pipeline capacity. So far in 2017, FERC certificated more than 7 Bcf/d of new pipeline capacity before losing its quorum following the departure of one commissioner in February, which left just two sitting commissioners and three vacant seats.FERC oversees the interstate transmission of natural gas, which includes the regulation of interstate transportation rates and services for natural gas pipelines, natural gas pipeline construction, and related pipeline environmental matters. Pipeline certification involves reviewing applications for the construction and operation of natural gas pipelines and ensuring that applicants comply with safety standards.Receiving a certificate is just one step in the process of building and operating a new pipeline; pipelines receiving certification in 2017 will not necessarily come online in 2017.The seven projects certificated during the first few weeks of 2017 include more than 1,500 miles of natural gas pipeline construction and expansions, involving combined additions of more than 7 Bcf/d of capacity. The pipeline projects are concentrated in the eastern half of the United States to improve access to markets for growing eastern natural gas production, and they have projected 2017 and 2018 in-service dates.
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